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Poll shows Canadians believe responders monitor social media

Oct. 9, 2012, Ottawa - One-third of Canadians believe emergency services such as fire and police would respond to requests for help on social media, a new poll says.

October 9, 2012
By Laura King

Oct. 9, 2012, Ottawa – One-third of Canadians believe emergency services
such as fire and police would respond to requests for help on social
media, a new poll says.

The poll by Ipsos Reid for the Canadian Red Cross shows that 54 per cent of Canadians would use social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to let their families and friends know they are safe.

The poll also showed that many Canadians believe responders monitor social networks and should respond to calls for help posted on social media sites.

“While many indicate that disaster and emergency responders already currently monitor social media websites, more indicate that responders should monitor social media for any signs of emergency,” the Red Cross and Ipsos said in a press release Tuesday morning.

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“Not only do many Canadians think that these responders should monitor social media, many also believe that they should be prepared to respond to calls for help that are posted in social media networks.”

According to the poll, 66 per cent of those surveyed believe  emergency responders such as fire and police should monitor social media websites. Sixty-three per cent said firefighters and police should be prepared to respond to calls for help that are posted on Facebook and Twitter, although just 35 per cent said they believe emergency services would respond to social media posts.

More than 50 per cent of respondents said they believe that police and fire currently monitor social media websites. Of those who think that these services would respond, 74 per cent believe that the response time would be an hour or less.

In terms of posting information, fewer than one in 10 (eight per cent) Canadians say that they have personally experienced a disaster and then posted information or photos about that event to a social media site. Of those who have, an overwhelming majority chose
Facebook (87 per cent) as the network on which to post.

“Indeed, the development of online communities, especially through the frequent use of social media and networking tools, has provided Canadians with new avenues to receive important information electronically,” Ipsos and the Red Cross said.

Although TV (39 per cent) and radio (26 per cent) tend to be the preferred ways of receiving news about an emergency, one-third (31 per cent) said they prefer to get their news updates electronically by e-mail, web site posts, texts or online news).

The poll shows that Canadians are more likely to sign up for electronic alerts in times of emergency, compared to general preparation updates. Half (49 per cent) would sign up for emails, text alerts, or smart phone applications to receive information about disaster preparedness when there are official warnings in their communities.

Of all the ways to receive this kind of information electronically, emails (39 per cent) are the most preferred method for Canadians. One-quarter say that they prefer text, while one in 10 (13 per cent) say they prefer smart phone applications.

While many Canadians say that they have personally experienced emergencies, two-thirds (66 per cent) of Canadians have not taken steps to prepare themselves in the event of a disaster. One-third (34 per cent) of Canadians, however, say that they have taken steps to prepare for such situations.

The types of emergencies that Canadians say they have most frequently experienced are a loss of electricity for more than 72 hours (41 per cent), and hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe storms (38 per cent).

While many are unprepared, some Canadians take precautions by having provisions available in the event of an emergency. Six in 10 (62 per cent) Canadians say that they have food and water to last them/them and their family 72 hours in the event of an emergency in which there was no electricity at their home. Thirty per cent say that they have a disaster preparedness kit in their homes, while one-quarter of Canadians have disaster kits in their cars.

The poll of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between June 19 and July 4 .